Pennsylvania law enforcement on Wednesday arrested a man accused of possessing “numerous explosive substances” as part of an improvised laboratory at his Middletown home.
Joseph M. McClure, 44, is being held without bond in Dauphin County on misdemeanor and felony charges including reckless endangerment, risking catastrophe and having or making weapons of mass destruction.
Middletown’s public safety director, William Baldwin, told reporters Wednesday night that the case “will eventually end up being federal.”
Some of the materials could be used to create military-grade explosives, according to the Middletown Police Department, which alleged in a complaint that McClure “knowingly obtained” the substances along with laboratory equipment such as glassware.
Mishandling the items “could have resulted in catastrophic damage to life and property of the surrounding area,” according to the complaint.
A law enforcement official told reporters that the department was working on the case with state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. When asked to comment, the department said that Homeland Security Investigations is “conducting an operation” in Middletown “with the assistance of federal and local law enforcement partners.”
“As this is an ongoing investigation, there are no further details at this time,” the department said.
Police swarmed the area of McClure’s apartment Wednesday afternoon, keeping neighbors away from the surrounding area for about seven hours while officials worked to clear out the dangerous materials, according to WHTM, a local ABC affiliate.
McClure was found to be in possession of chemicals that could create pentaerythritol tetranitrate, along with nickel hydrazine nitrate, picric acid and hexamine.
His past criminal record includes charges such as driving with a blood alcohol level of more than 0.16%, resisting arrest and recklessly endangering another person.
Middletown is about 10 miles southeast of the state capital, Harrisburg, and about two hours west of Philadelphia.